He Did it, Too

Originally posted March 30, 2013

One of the arguments I have the least tolerance for is when my kids justify poor choices by pointing out someone else “did it too.”  This is either cropping up more or I am more aware/bothered by it lately.  I have come up with a standard reply.  (I have a few of those, and I suspect as my kids get older, they will tease me/repeat them back to me, as kids do to their parents.  Oh well).  My reply goes something like this: “Do you base your decisions on someone else’s poor choices or on what you know to be right?” 

I have to say, there are so many times that I say something quite parental like this, and first of all, a part of me says, “oh my goodness, I’m the mom now.  huh.” And secondly, I hear the same words echo in my head as a lesson for me.  This is one of those.  For me, it’s not making fart jokes or sneaking extra time playing wii.  For me, it’s a bit more subtle, and sometimes, a bit more internal:  gossip, envy, careless words, avoiding responsibility, a little bad habit here and there.  But no matter the bad choice, it’s always easier to justify if I can look around and see someone else doing something similar.  “She did it, too.”  So how do I  measure my choices?  What standard do I use?

Scripture comes to mind as a pretty handy tool for this.  And with Scripture, come some pretty wonderful examples of men and women making strong, wise decisions, as well as men and women making poor choices, all too often followed up by all sorts of justifications.  One of the most obvious to me of the latter is the whole finger pointing debacle in the Garden of Eden.  But what struck me recently, during this Holy Week, is a lesser discussed example of a brave, singular decision made by a nameless criminal:

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:35-43)

Wow.  How brave, how wise, how (seemingly) alone this man was.  He could so easily have joined in with the mockers, or even the silent.  But he formed his decision, not on what anyone else was doing, but on what something inside him told him to be the Truth.  What a marvelous example of courage in the midst of the darkest hour.

So I will continue to ask my children, and continue to ask myself:  What do I base my choices on- what everyone else is doing?  what “he/she did”?  someone else’s mistaken thinking or poor decisions?  Or on what I know to be Truth?

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Filed under Christian living, Examining life, parenting

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